1. First, do you remember anything about taking pictures for baseball cards? What did the process normally entail?
I don’t believe I was ever told that the photos being taken were for Topps. In spring training lots of people were taking photos, even of a no-name player. A player just got adjusted to posing when someone was pointing a camera at him. My last Topps photo, taken in spring of 1971, shows my acclaimed “Howdy Doody” impersonation. I was going into the dugout after running too many laps on a miserable windy day when a photographer leaned over the dugout and said something like, “Let me get one shot.” I just wanted to get to the clubhouse to take my contact lenses out. I was sold to Hawaii a couple of days later, but my Brewers card was published anyway.
2. Do you remember signing your Topps contract? I’ve seen pictures of checks awarded to players for $5 each. Do you think this was fair and did you do anything special with the money you received?
All I remember about signing the Topps contract is that I was given a list of “gifts,” with a dollar value shown for each gift. I don’t remember the values, but the items were of good quality. The only selection I remember was a camera which I used for over ten years. I don’t believe I was ever given a check.
3. Have you ever collected baseball cards yourself?
I never collected baseball cards. I didn’t even know about the Topps cards until I was playing pro ball (I signed in 1959). I have only a couple of my own cards, and I’m not sure where they are.
4. What is your fondest baseball memory?
My fondest baseball memory was playing for the Hawaii Islanders in the Pacific Coast League. Hawaii was the greatest place in the world for playing baseball. The weather was perfect, the stadium had more “character” than Fenway or Wrigley, and the fans were wonderful. A good many major league veterans made a concerted effort to play there late in their careers — guys like Mike McCormick, Clete Boyer, George Brunet, and Leon Wagner.
5. Finally, what do you like to do in your spare time now? What does life after baseball look like for Dave Baldwin?
I’m now retired after careers as a geneticist, engineer, and artist. My wife and I moved to a quiet village, Yachats, on the coast of Oregon in 2004. In my spare time I read a lot — articles about current genetic research, mostly. Also, I’m continuing to experiment with art, I’m writing a book of fables (about half done), I’m introducing the sport of Pickleball to the elderly folks of Yachats, I’m volunteering at the local library and with several local service organizations, and throughout each summer I’m organizing and promoting sandlot baseball games (everyone gets to play) on the pathetic little field in our village. I don’t seem to have much spare time these days.
A big thanks to Mr. Baldwin for taking the time to answer my questions. For more fun baseball stories, take a few minutes to check out Dave’s web site. Until next time…